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Fletcher Building
10 марта, 20:49

Rate Cut Puts New Zealand ETF in Focus

New Zealand central bank decision to cut key interest rate by 25 bps makes that country ETF worthwhile.

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20 февраля 2014, 12:31

New Zealand Builder’s Results Tell a Tale of Two Economies

Fletcher Building has a foot on either side of the Tasman Sea – and with the outlook in Australia patchy at best, it’s thankful for its New Zealand exposure.

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20 февраля 2014, 12:31

New Zealand Builder’s Results Tell a Tale of Two Economies

Fletcher Building has a foot on either side of the Tasman Sea – and with the outlook in Australia patchy at best, it’s thankful for its New Zealand exposure.

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20 февраля 2014, 12:31

New Zealand Builder’s Results Tell a Tale of Two Economies

Fletcher Building has a foot on either side of the Tasman Sea – and with the outlook in Australia patchy at best, it’s thankful for its New Zealand exposure.

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20 февраля 2014, 12:31

New Zealand Builder’s Results Tell a Tale of Two Economies

Fletcher Building has a foot on either side of the Tasman Sea – and with the outlook in Australia patchy at best, it’s thankful for its New Zealand exposure.

21 августа 2013, 18:04

Новая Зеландия: годовая прибыль Fletcher Building превысила прогнозы аналитиков

Крупнейший в Новой Зеландии поставщик строительных материалов Fletcher Building сообщил о годовой прибыли, превысившей прогнозы аналитиков. Так, чистая прибыль за год с окончанием 30 июня составила NZ$326 млн ($260 млн). Аналитики, в свою очередь, ожидали NZ$318 млн. Стоит отметить, что на этих новостях акции Fletcher Building продемонстрировали значительное повышение на торгах в Веллингтоне.

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23 марта 2013, 18:33

Libya's original freedom fighter vows to carry on battle for peace

Death threats from the Libyan militias have driven Gaddafi's former nemesis, Hassan al-Amin, to take refuge in LondonFor three decades, Hassan al-Amin was one of Libya's foremost dissidents. He organised and agitated against the Gaddafi regime from a tiny office in a converted bedroom in his house in south London. When the Arab spring swept the country, he returned to a rapturous welcome, being elected last year to the new congress and appointed head of its human rights committee. But today he is an exile again, chased from Libya by some of the same militias he once hailed as heroes.Amin's story of triumph and banishment is also the story of Libya's slide from post-revolutionary triumph to a land ruled by the gun. "I returned to Libya with tears in my eyes. I was so hopeful," he says now. "But our revolution has been hijacked."I first met him one baking hot day at the tail end of that revolution, when he came to address hundreds of wives, mothers and sisters of Misrata's slain militiamen in a mosque at Zarouk, one of the city's battered southern suburbs. Rockets were still landing in the city, but the reception was thunderous as he outlined the bright future for a country free of dictatorship and able to enjoy the riches of Africa's largest oil reserves. "I had a lot of hope then; I thought everybody was going to live up to the responsibility." However the guns never fell properly silent in Libya. Militia violence is Libya's curse, exploding last September with the murder of America's ambassador, Chris Stevens, when jihadist gunmen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi.This month, the violence finally caught up with Amin. He had already clashed with some militia leaders in Misrata when he visited jails, demanding that prisoners be released to government care. Then, on 5 March, parliament met to debate Libya's most contentious issue, the planned purge of Gaddafi-era officials from public office.After days of protests, congress moved to Libya's meteorological office, hoping the out-of-town location would spare it violence. Instead, armed protesters ringed the building, police melted away and gunmen broke in and held MPs hostage for 12 hours. Some female members barricaded themselves in an office; others ran for their lives. Trying to escape, speaker Mohammed Magariaf's jeep was hit by a fusillade of machine-gun fire.Amin was on his way to congress when an MP phoned him to warn him of the chaos. He diverted to Tripoli's television station, making a live broadcast urging the people to save their congress. The decision made him a lightning rod not just for protest, but for the anger of rogue militias. Death threats followed, so he resigned from congress, the first MP to do so, fleeing back to Britain.I met him last week back in the small room in his home, its location kept secret at his request, and from where he did so much to galvanise support for the revolution. His website, Libya Al Mostakbal, Libya The Future, is humming again, this time with demands that the militias respect congress. The bookshelves are crammed with law books in English and Arabic, the ashtray is full, and his lean frame is hunched over a computer as messages of support come in from Libya and abroad. "I never thought this would happen. The country is now full of militarised groups; some of them are out of control. Thousands of prisoners are in jail – they are not charged with anything. I was the chairman of the human rights committee and I couldn't do anything."Life as an exile is a familiar role: Amin, 53, fled Gaddafi's Libya in 1983, after being caught up in a purge of his university. He was beaten and tortured, then freed with orders to spy on fellow academics. Instead, he escaped to London. He arrived on 4 July to find the city bedecked in the Stars and Stripes. "I thought I had arrived in the wrong place, everywhere was the American flag," he remembers. "Then someone said it was the American independence day, and I thought 'Bloody hell, this is my independence day'."Amin settled in London, marrying a fellow Misratan and starting a family of three children, and after getting a master's degree in comparative education at London University he began a teaching career at a Surrey school.Meanwhile, he became a leading activist: each Saturday he would hold vigil with a small band of fellow exiles in Trafalgar Square, handing out leaflets against Gaddafi. "Sometimes just me and my son were there, in the rain, in the snow. It was important to be there."A year after arriving in Britain, Libyans protested outside the London embassy, to be met by a burst of machine gun fire that killed WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Amin missed it because his own group had decided that as the protest was organised by rival dissidents, its members should stay away. "After that I decided: no groups, I would protest as an individual," he says.When Gaddafi's son Saif Al Islam was invited to speak at the London School of Economics in 2009, after he arranged a controversial payment of £1.5m, Amin and a handful of activists turned up to demonstrate, to be attacked by pro-Gaddafi thugs on the university steps. "I never ever lost hope. I always knew Gaddafi would go. What I did not expect was for it to happen in this manner, for the people to do it in this big way."The ubiquity of a revolution that was fought by more than 500 militias has proved latterly to be its weakness. While many militias have evolved into quasi-police forces, others have turned to gangsterism, with a weak government in no position to confront them. The result is a fragmented country and economic stagnation; foreign investors have been frightened off and Libya's leaders are too divided to tackle the chaos left by Gaddafi's four decades of erratic brutal rule.In February, hamstrung by protests, congress abandoned the so-called Road Map, a constitutional declaration devised two years ago that gave it the job of supervising Libya's constitution. A new body is to be elected to do the job, but with arguments raging over the place of Sharia law in that constitution, and with regional leaders squabbling for influence, there is no sign of when those elections will happen. "We need a new road map, " says Amin. "Congress is the highest legal body in the country: if this legislature is finished, the whole country is finished."For the moment, he is back to a familiar role, and says he is grateful for the sanctuary. "Britain is my second home. This country educated me, my children were born here, it sheltered me when I was in danger. You know, the ordinary people in Libya want peace and stability. "It is up to us, the people, to confront the militias."LibyaMiddle East and North AfricaAfricaChris Stephenguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

07 марта 2013, 03:26

Radioactive Waste May Be Shipped To New Mexico

RICHLAND, Wash. — Federal officials are looking to ship some 3 million gallons of radioactive waste from Washington state to New Mexico, giving the government more flexibility to deal with leaking tanks at Hanford Nuclear Reservation, officials said Wednesday. The Department of Energy said its preferred plan would ultimately dispose of the waste in a massive repository – called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant – near Carlsbad, N.M, where radioactive materials are buried in rooms excavated in vast salt beds nearly a half-mile underground. The federal proposal was quickly met with criticism from a New Mexico environmental group that said the state permit allowing the government to bury waste at the plant would not allow for shipments from Hanford, the nation's most contaminated nuclear site. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said WIPP specifically prohibits waste from Hanford and any proposal to modify permit language in this case would need "strong justification and public input." "WIPP has demonstrated success in its handling of defense TRU waste," Udall said in a statement. "With regard to Hanford waste, I urge all parties involved to exhibit caution and scientific integrity to ensure that DOE is abiding by the law and that the waste classifications are justified." The waste near Carlsbad includes such things as clothing, tools and other debris. Between 2000 and 2011, the Hanford site sent the equivalent of about 25,000 drums of such so-called transuranic waste, which is radioactive but less deadly than the worst, high-level waste. The latest proposal would target just a fraction of the transuranic waste from Hanford's underground tanks, which hold a toxic, radioactive stew of liquids, sludge and solids. Federal officials have identified six leaking tanks at Hanford. Five of those tanks contain transuranic waste, said Tom Fletcher, assistant manager of the tank farms for the Energy Department. Dave Huizenga, head of the Energy Department's Environmental Management program, said the transfer would not impact the safe operations of the New Mexico facility. "This alternative, if selected for implementation in a record of decision, could enable the Department to reduce potential health and environmental risk in Washington State," said Huizenga. Don Hancock, of the Albuquerque-based watchdog group Southwest Research and Information opposing the transfer to New Mexico, said this is not the first time DOE has proposed bringing more waste to the plant near Carlsbad. "This is a bad, old idea that's been uniformly rejected on a bipartisan basis by politicians when it came up in the past, and it's been strongly opposed by citizen groups like mine and others," Hancock said. "It's also clear that it's illegal." Disposal operations near Carlsbad began in March 1999. Since then, more than 85,000 cubic meters of waste have been shipped to WIPP from a dozen sites around the country. Any additional waste from Hanford would have to be analyzed to ensure it could be stored at the site because a permit issued by the New Mexico Environment Department dictates what kinds of waste and the volumes that can be stored there. WIPP spokeswoman Deb Gill said the facility does not anticipate any problems with its existing capacity as permitted under law. Officials estimate that some 7,000 to 40,000 drums of waste would be trucked to New Mexico, depending on how the waste is treated and its final form. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the proposal is a good start in the process of getting rid of Hanford's waste. "I will be insistent that the full cycle of technical review and permitting is resolved so that any grouted material does not remain in the state of Washington," Inslee said. Inslee traveled Wednesday to Hanford to learn more about the leaking waste tanks. His trip came a day after federal officials acknowledged budget cuts may disrupt efforts to empty the aging vessels. Inslee said sending waste to New Mexico is two to four years away. He also said a system is in place to treat the groundwater should contamination from the leaks reach it. In the meantime, Inslee plans to push Congress to fully fund this proposal, saying "every single dollar of it is justified." South-central Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation is home to 177 underground tanks, which hold toxic and radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production for the country's nuclear weapons arsenal. The tanks hold some 56 million gallons of waste and have long surpassed their intended 20-year lifespan. The Energy Department has said the leaking tanks could be releasing as much as 1,000 gallons a year. State and federal officials have said the leaking materials pose no immediate threat to public safety or the environment, but the leaks raise concerns about the potential for groundwater to be contaminated and, ultimately, reach the neighboring Columbia River about 5 miles away. Inslee has said repeatedly that Washington state has a "zero tolerance" policy for leaks. In a letter to Inslee, the Department of Energy estimated it will have to eliminate $92 million for its Office of River Protection, which oversees efforts to empty the tanks and build a plant to treat the waste. The cuts will result in furloughs or layoffs impacting about 4,800 workers in Washington, including 2,800 contract employees dealing with tank waste and construction of a plant to treat the waste, the agency said. Inslee spokesman David Postman said the governor's initial concern is for the workers, but he emphasized budget constraints cannot be an excuse to delay response to the leaking tanks. The U.S. government spends some $2 billion each year on cleanup at Hanford – one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally – so the project is still in line to receive most of its usual federal funding. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman wrote in his letter layoffs and furloughs may curtail progress related to closing the tanks. The cuts within the Energy Department's budget are the result of debate in Congress, where Republicans and President Barack Obama are fighting over how to curtail the nation's debt. Energy Department officials said their budget was being reduced by some $1.9 billion. ___ Associated Press writers Mike Baker in Olympia and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque contributed to this report.

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26 января 2013, 18:37

The Truth About Red Tide's Manmade Causes and Health Effects

Sayer Ji, ContributorActivist Post If you consult the websites of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the Mote Marine Laboratory, both considered authorities on marine environmental issues in the state of Florida, red tide outbreaks associated with Karenia brevis are "natural phenomena," 'beyond our ability to control,' and explicitly not fed by nutrient pollution or causally linked to land-based, human activities. And yet, longtime residents of the Florida Gulf coast (the author included) can tell you from first-hand experience that the blooms have been getting progressively worse, closer to shore, and persisting for a greater length of time, indicating that if it is an entirely natural cycle, it has undergone concerning changes of late. The reality is that authorities who deny the involvement of land-based activities and algae blooms are conveniently ignoring the science, which is peer reviewed and published, that instructs us on what is feeding red tide near shore. Florida has only so many industries that sustain its fragile economy, many of which would have to enact substantial and costly reforms in order to improve the environmental situation. The tourism and real estate industries also have a vested interest in minimizing and/or denying the extent of the problem, at least in the short term. The long-term outlook, however, is dismal for these industries, who, failing to act, would see the primary attractor for tourists or potential buyers of real estate -- the Gulf of Mexico -- transformed into a Petri dish. It is for this reason that the truth about red tide must gain a wider audience, and we hope, widespread acceptance. How Red Tide Is Measured and Misleadingly Contextualized For the Public Since late September last year, the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast has been under siege by laboratory-verified blooms [see Status Maps], growing to its present state of significant outbreaks of a million cells per liter or higher, and stretching all the way from Manatee County to the Florida Keys. This is one of the worst red tide outbreaks in recorded history.[i] google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Karenia brevis levels are measured by state environmental authorities using the cells/liter scale as follows: Not Present – Background (0-1000) Very Low (more than 1,000 to 10,000) Low (more than 10,000 to 100,000) Medium (more than 100,000 – 1,000,000) High (more than 1,000,000) These figures, however, are quite misleading. Using colloquial expressions such as "Very Low" to describe concentrations of Karenia brevis of 1,000 to 10,000 cells per liter does the public a disservice, as they are serious enough to lead to acute symptoms of respiratory irritation and shellfish harvesting closures. So-called "Low" levels, or 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter, can cause fish kills. Once you get to "Medium" and "High" red tide represents a serious health threat to exposed populations, keeping in mind that one does not have to be "at the beach" to be affected, as red tide brevetoxins are aerosolized (made airborne) via wave action, and can be carried on the wind many miles inshore. In fact, at so-called "Low" levels (more than) 50,000 cells/liter the saturation of Karenia brevis is already significant enough that it can be detected by satellite. At present, levels along the affected Southwest Florida Gulf Coast have reached "High" in several areas, including off the coast of Lee County where I am presently reporting from. I can speak directly from experience that this is a particularly noxious outbreak. For instance, I had a bronchial asthma attack for the first time in 20 years and have found myself, my family, and the local community I serve to be at greatly increased susceptibility to prolonged cold and flu bouts, over the past five months. Another important consideration is that red tide sampling occurs primarily in surface water (80% surface sampling; 20% bottom sampling). The problem is that Karenia brevis blooms have been found to penetrate coastal waters along the bottom without surface expression until nearshore. This means that "negative" surface findings do not necessarily indicate the absence of a problem.So, What Is The Real Cause of Prolonged, Near-To-Shore Red Tide Outbreaks? So, back to the question: Are these outbreaks entirely natural phenomena, as many health authorities, and certainly folks within the mainstream media, tourist and real estate industry, often maintain? The answer is a resolute and resounding NO. In April, 2009, the journal Aquatic Microbial Ecology published a groundbreaking study titled, "Grazing by Karenia brevis on Synechococcus enhances its growth rate and may help to sustain blooms," which provided the missing link in how red tide is directly fed by human, land-based activities. Here is the study abstract: ABSTRACT: Grazing rates of Karenia brevis Clones CCMP2228 and CCMP2229 were determined in laboratory experiments using Synechococcus sp. Clone CCMP1768 as food. Grazing by K. brevis thus enhances the range of nutritional substrates available to meet its growth requirements, and may play a substantial role in sustaining natural populations in inorganic N-poor waters. With evidence that blooms of Synechococcus can be enhanced due to anthropogenic nutrients, the poten­tial importance of this particulate nutrient source for sustaining red tide blooms in situ is large and may help to resolve the current uncertainty as to how K. brevis blooms are maintained. It can now be hypothesized that as cyanobacterial blooms increase, so too does the potential for Karenia brevis growth to be enhanced and for blooms to be sus­tained through grazing, especially under the low light conditions associated with bloom self-shading. Recog­nition of this pathway is at least one step toward recon­ciling the long-term reported increase in K. brevis blooms (e.g. Brand & Compton 2007) and the tendency for blooms of this species to develop offshore in seem­ingly oligotrophic waters (e.g. Vargo et al. 2004, 2008) What this research essentially proves is that the runoff from land-based applications of urea nitrogen fertilizers such as commonly used in lawn care, as well as additional sources of nitrogen urea from septic tanks, sewage spills and close-to-water sewage treatment effluent, result in Synachoccus blooms, which is a harmless, green slime algae (have you noticed the green slime at your beach?). Karenia brevis (red tide) uses the green slime as an energy source. The more Synachoccus the more red tide; simple cause and effect. At the root of the problem are nitrogen urea fertilizers, which are overused in Florida lawn care practices, as well as in Florida agriculture (more on this later). According to a Sierra Club report linking fertilizers to red tide blooms, residential fertilizer use in the state of Florida increased by 153,533.95 tons or 45% from 2003 to 2006 alone.[ii] One might ask the question to Floridians: is the "health" of your lawns (read: aesthetic appearance) more important than the health of the Gulf of Mexico (and by implication, your own health)? Ironically, plants need primarily magnesium (for chlorophyll) and potassium, and not nearly as much nitrogen, which is presently being used at up to 5 times higher levels than required. In fact, excess nitrogen leads to plasmolysis in plants, causing excess water to leave the plant entering the soil, resulting in wilting. The excess nitrogen, of course, leaches into the soil and eventually a portion of its causes water pollution. The obvious solution to the accelerating red tide problem is to reduce land-based applications of urea nitrogen, especially in the summer months. As the green slime is reduced, the red tide will have no additional energy source and will die out.How Red Tide Adversely Affects Human Health In order to understand how red tide affects human health, one must first understand brevetoxins, the primary "poisons" produced by this organism. There are at least 9, and as many as 14, brevetoxins divided into two classes: Brevetoxin A and Brevetoxin B, with 3 subtypes characterized among Brevetoxin A and 4 subtypes among Brevetoxin B. Brevetoxins are extremely toxic. The brevetoxin B subtype, PB-TX2, for instance, has an oral LD50 (the acutely lethal dose that kills 50% of the test group) equivalent to cyanide (6 mg/kg) at 6.6 mg/kg in the 24 mouse model of acute exposure. No one truly knows the extent of the synergistic toxicity associated with exposure to all 9-14 brevetoxins simultaneously, which is what may occur in real-world exposure, because it has not (to my knowledge) been researched. Brevetoxins are known primarily as a neurotoxic. They bind to voltage-gated sodium channels in nerve cells, leading to disruption of nerve transmission and in some cases nerve cell death. Animal research indicates that as little as 2 days of subacute exposure to the Brevetoxin B, PbTx-3, is sufficient to induce neuronal degeneration in a discrete reason of the mouse cerebral cortex.[iii] In humans, a condition known as Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) caused by the consumption of shellfish contaminated by brevetoxins has been identified. Symptoms include vomiting and nausea and a variety of neurological symptoms such as slurred speech.[iv] Of course, lower concentrations, especially in more susceptible populations already suffering from neurological issues, likely contribute to these symptoms, as well as headache, myalgias (muscle soreness), and related aches and pains that would be hard to attribute to such an invisible toxin, whose health threat is generally downplayed by the media and medical establishment. Neurotoxicity, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. A 2004 study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found that the immune system, and not the nervous system, is the primary target of brevetoxins.[v] Animals exposed to brevetoxin saw a more than 70% suppression of humoral immunity. A 2005 study confirmed this finding.[vi] Then, in 2011, it was found that brevetoxin A inhalation worsens the pulmonary response to influenza A in the male rat. [vii] The study authors concluded: "These results suggest that repeated inhalation exposure to brevetoxin may delay virus particle clearance and recovery from influenza A infection in the rat lung." This finding indicates that red tide blooms may therefore worsen the seasonal flu epidemics that commonly afflict the Southwest Florida, especially when the bloom persists into the fall and winter months, as is the present case. It is already well known that hospital verified cases of respiratory issues can increase by over 50% during sustained red tide outbreaks.[viii] Considering that much of the mortality associated with influenza infection is associated with pneumonia complications, reducing red tide outbreaks via fertilizer use reductions should be considered a top priority by health authorities. But the adverse health effects do not end with neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity, as serious gastrointestinal complaints may also follow from red tide exposure. A 2010 study examined whether the presence of a Florida red tide bloom affected the rates of admission for a gastrointestinal diagnosis to a hospital emergency room in Sarasota, FL.[ix] According to the study: The rates of gastrointestinal diagnoses admissions were compared for a 3-month time period in 2001 when Florida red tide bloom was present onshore to the same 3-month period in 2002 when no Florida red tide bloom occurred. A significant 40% increase in the total number of gastrointestinal emergency room admissions for the Florida red tide bloom period was found compared to the non red tide period. We can therefore add gastrointestinal issues to the growing list of red tide associated health issues. Other potential health effects that have been noted in the biomedical literature include: Asthma Bilateral Mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear) Hemolytic Anemia Neuromuscular Diseases So What Can Be Done? 1) REDUCE EXPOSURE: First, if you live in South Florida, remember to monitor your area's levels by visiting the Status Maps. Please keep in mind that proximity is not the only factor in exposure, due to the well-known aerosolization of these toxins and the inability of surface water testing to fully reveal its presence. Next, visit the site WindMaps.com, to see if the winds are moving inshore, or going offshore. This simple step may enable you to reduce exposure, by reducing time outside, and certainly keeping off the beach, on days that aerosolized red tide brevetoxins may be moving inshore. Also, consider that if you are driving, keep the air circulating within the cabin. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do if your AC unit is continually pulling air from outside inside your home, but you could reduce your AC usage on these days. Eating cooling foods, and wear lighter clothing, for instance. 2) REDUCE TOXIC EFFECTS: The primary mechanism through which brevetoxins cause respiratory harm is through IgE-independent mast cell activation.[x] Mast cells are immune cells which if over-activated can produce a wide range of potentially harmful substances, such as: Histamine (inflammatory) Thromboxane (vasoconstrictive) Prostaglandin D2 (brochoconstrive) Leukotriene C4 (bronchoconstrictive) Keeping this in mind, preventing mast-cell degranulation with safe, non-drug alternatives such as nettle's extract may be an ideal approach to the problem. Several companies provide extracts which concentrate the compounds within nettle's that inhibit mast cell degranulation, e.g. New Chapter's Histamine Take Care, V!ah's "Allerblock." While we do not endorse any product, as this runs counter to our mission statement (you will see no ads on GreenMedInfo.com for any dietary supplement) we feel compelled to inform our readers that alternatives to antihistamine drugs like Benadryl do exist. Also, please remember to do your own research in tandem with consulting a licensed health care practitioner before embarking on a path of self-care. Other potential histamine-blocking compounds that have been researched can be found on our histamine antagonist page: Histamine Antagonist. 3) CONTRIBUTE TO THE LONG-TERM SOLUTION: The long-term solution is to reduce the use of nitrogen urea fertilizers in both lawn and agricultural applications. There is no question that nitrogen urea rich agricultural runoff, primarily from the sugarcane and citrus industries, are sizable contributors to the overall nitrogen burden in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of Big Sugar's agricultural runoff ends up in Lake Okeechobee, which eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. A 2006 study published in the journal Biogeochemistry titled, "Escalating worldwide use of urea – a global change contributing to coastal eutrophication," indicates worldwide use of urea as a nitrogen fertilizer and feed additive has increased more than 100-fold in the past 4 decades. The study pointed out: Long thought to be retained in soils, new data are suggestive of significant overland transport of urea to sensitive coastal waters. Urea concentrations in coastal and estuarine waters can be substantially elevated and can represent a large fraction of the total dissolved organic nitrogen pool. Urea is used as a nitrogen substrate by many coastal phytoplankton and is increasingly found to be important in the nitrogenous nutrition of some harmful algal bloom (HAB) species. They also noted that "the global increase from 1970 to 2000 in documented incidences of paralytic shellfish poisoning, caused by several HAB species, is similar to the global increase in urea use over the same 3 decades." The reality is that these agricultural practices have been a long time in the making, and will take considerable time, energy and political clout to change. The good news is that you can make changes at the local level, from the bottom up, as it were, by starting with your own lawn. You can also organize at a county level to enact ordinances that restrict fertilizer use, as Ed Rosenthal, founder of the non-profit organization Advocate the Precautionary Principle, has done with great success in Sarasota county. These results are encouraging, and indicate that we can build a grassroots movement with an end goal to enact stricter regulations at the state level. Resources [i] Herald Tribune, Oct. 9th, 2012, Worst Red Tide Outbreak Since 2007 [ii] Sierra Club, Fertilizer Use and its Impact on Harmful Red Algae Blooms (Red Tide) [iii] Xiuzhen Yan, Janet M Benson, Andrea P Gomez, Daniel G Baden, Thomas F Murray. Brevetoxin-induced neural insult in the retrosplenial cortex of mouse brain. Inhal Toxicol. 2006 Dec ;18(14):1109-16. [iv] Sharon M Watkins, Andrew Reich, Lora E Fleming, Roberta Hammond. Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning. Mar Drugs. 2008 ;6(3):431-55. Epub 2008 Jul 12. [v] Janet Benson, Fletcher Hahn, Thomas March, Jacob McDonald, Mohan Sopori, JeanClare Seagrave, Andrea Gomez, Andrea Bourdelais, Jerome Naar, Julia Zaias, Gregory Bossart, Daniel Baden . Inhalation toxicity of brevetoxin 3 in rats exposed for 5 days. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2004 Sep 24 ;67(18):1443-56. [vi] Janet M Benson, Fletcher F Hahn, Thomas H March, Jacob D McDonald, Andrea P Gomez, Mohan J Sopori, Andrea J Bourdelais, Jerome Naar, Julia Zaias, Gregory D Bossart, Daniel G Baden. Inhalation toxicity of brevetoxin 3 in rats exposed for twenty-two days. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 May ;113(5):626-31. [vii] Janet M Benson, Molly L Wolf, Adriana Kajon, Brad M Tibbetts, Andrea J Bourdelais, Daniel G Baden, Thomas H March . Brevetoxin inhalation alters the pulmonary response to influenza A in the male F344 rat. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2011 ;74(5):313-24. [viii] Barbara Kirkpatrick, Lora E Fleming, Lorraine C Backer, Judy A Bean, Robert Tamer, Gary Kirkpatrick, Terrance Kane, Adam Wanner, Dana Dalpra, Andrew Reich, Daniel G Baden. Environmental exposures to Florida red tides: Effects on emergency room respiratory diagnoses admissions. Harmful Algae. 2006 Oct 1 ;5(5):526-533. [ix] Barbara Kirkpatrick, Judy A Bean, Lora E Fleming, Gary Kirkpatrick, Lynne Grief, Kate Nierenberg, Andrew Reich, Sharon Watkins, Jerome Naar. A significant 40% increase in the total number of gastrointestinal emergency room admissions for the Florida red tide bloom period was found compared to the non red tide period. Harmful Algae. 2010 Jan 1 ;9(1):82-86. [x] Susana C Hilderbrand, Rachel N Murrell, James E Gibson, Jared M Brown. Marine brevetoxin induces IgE-independent mast cell activation. Arch Toxicol. 2011 Feb ;85(2):135-41. Epub 2010 Jun 13. 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14 января 2013, 23:35

Stanley Weiss: Marshall Parks for the Middle East

WASHINGTON -- On December 4, 2008, exactly 40 years after returning from a tour as an infantryman in the Vietnam War, United States Senator Chuck Hagel spoke of peace. "When I think of jobs and improving people's conditions," he told the nonpartisan Israel Policy Forum, "I think of what Stef Wertheimer has been doing in Turkey and Israel." Hagel explained that Wertheimer -- one of Israel's wealthiest men -- "has five very high-tech industrial base firms in Turkey and Israel. They're planning twenty more. I've been there. I've seen them. Here he has Palestinians and Israelis and Jews working side by side in these plants, and he is helping educate their children. They have futures, they have opportunities. This is not some idealistic dream, in fact it's happened." Three years later, in an address to the graduating class at Tuft University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Hagel's Senate colleague and fellow Vietnam veteran, Senator John Kerry, declared that "We are again in desperate need of a Marshall Plan for the Middle East" because "in the end, nothing will be more important than helping to build a better economic future for the Middle East as a whole." Today, these two advocates of economic engagement are poised to become America's next Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State. At a time when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process only seems to move backwards, both offer painfully-won knowledge of the horrors of war, and a needed willingness to consider other approaches. They recognize that if the leaders of Israel, Hamas and Fatah are unwilling to find political solutions, maybe it's time for America to work with business leaders to drive economic solutions. The idea of a Marshall Plan for the Middle East has been suggested by everyone from the dean of Columbia Business School to the leader of the Syrian rebels. The New York Times' David Brooks has gone so far as to propose a $50 "Marshall Plan Tax" whenever anyone recommends such a program. Nor is everyone convinced that a WWII-era policy named for then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall -- through which the U.S. provided massive grants, loans and technical assistance to rebuild post-war Europe while preventing the spread of Soviet communism -- translates so easily to an unstable region known for corruption and tribal loyalties. Yet Stef Wertheimer's Marshall-inspired industrial parks are something different, consisting not just of economic development, but technical education, cross-cultural communities and art museums -- home. Nestled in the foothills of the Galilee, his flagship Tefen Industrial Park draws a steady stream of startups and visitors, as impressed by the high-performing businesses as they are by the Israeli and Palestinian residents who happily co-exist. Wertheimer -- a highly-respected entrepreneur who fled Nazi persecution and fought for Israeli Independence before founding a small metal tool cutting business -- jokingly calls this his "capitalist kibbutz," but a more appropriate name might be "Marshall Parks." Wertheimer runs seven such parks -- six in Israel, one in Turkey -- which he proudly informs me have helped launch more than 200 export firms, create over 5,500 jobs and generate over $1 billion in sales. The Middle East manufactures only two percent of the globe's goods -- compared to 60 percent of the world's oil -- yet more than a tenth of Israel's industrial exports trace their origin to Wertheimer's model. His dream -- Wertheimer's Marshall Plan -- is a string of 100 industrial parks stretching from Turkey to Egypt, employing and training equal numbers of Israelis and Arabs while giving shaky Arab states the industrial base from which to launch modern economies. For a few tantalizing months in the 1990s that dream seemed in reach. "I personally went to Gaza in the late 1990s to meet with Yasser Arafat and secured his agreement to build an industrial park there," Wertheimer tells me. There were signed agreements from two Israeli Prime Ministers -- Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu -- in addition to commitments from Daimler Chrysler, Sidney Harman and other business leaders. A week before ground broke the Second Intifada began, derailing plans. Ever the industrious industrialist, Wertheimer continued to marshal support for his stalled project, testifying before Congress in 2002 and impressing the likes of George Mitchell and Liz Cheney until the Iraq War diverted U.S. attention. As international interest waned with each new wave of violence, Wertheimer's did as well, though he continues to plead his case to anyone who will listen. His newest plant -- in the largely Arab city of Nazareth -- opens this month, but Wertheimer still yearns to build in the Palestinian Territories where the impact would be greatest. At the moment, however, Israel seems as resistant as ever to improving its untenable situation. In November, rocket attacks from Gaza nearly precipitated an Israeli ground operation, and to the north, Israel is constructing another wall to prevent the chaos in Syria from spilling across the border. Israel's upcoming elections will almost certainly return to power a fractured but increasingly hardline coalition of nationalists and religious right-wingers. Meanwhile, despite the Palestinian Authority achieving "observer status" at the U.N., Palestinians remain badly divided between Hamas and Fatah, their government nearly bankrupt. Still, as Gilead Sher, a former Camp David negotiator and now co-chair of the pro-peace organization Blue White Future, wryly tells me, "The circumstances never seem to be right for any initiative, a fact that makes any time right for such an initiative." With traditional diplomacy at a standstill -- and the likely elevation of two U.S. cabinet secretaries committed to the soft power of economic development -- now is the perfect time to recommit to constructing these Marshall Parks. Building five across Jordan would cost a relatively paltry $1 billion over five years. The cost of a single $150 million F-22 Raptor fighter jet, Wertheimer notes, would fund the initial cost of constructing seven parks. They could quickly be replicated in the West Bank and Gaza, creating a free trade zone benefiting Israelis, Palestinians and Egyptians. The model and the motivation are there -- all that's missing is the money. Just as it successfully did in post-war Europe -- and more recently in Northern Ireland under President Bill Clinton ahead of peace talks -- the U.S. government can encourage the investment that will sow the dividends of peace. If international business executives can join with local leaders to take a leap of faith, these industrial parks will take off. Before long, Wertheimer says, "the parks can usher in an era in which production, exports, education and an advanced quality of life can replace terrorism and poverty." He adds, "Quite frankly, helping the Palestinians economically is the best thing for Israel. When you're sitting down for dinner and you've got food on your plate and the people around you don't, it's dangerous. Israel will be a lot safer if the people in our region have more food on their own plates." It was the Biblical prophet Isaiah -- revered by Jews and Muslims alike -- whose oft-quoted words command us to beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Melting weapons of war into instruments of a productive peace has always been a goal worth chasing. With a few industrial parks, it might just be a goal within reach. Stanley Weiss is the former chairman of American Premier, Inc. (an international mining, refractories, chemicals and mineral processing company) and founding chairman of Business Executives for National Security (a non-partisan organization of senior executives who contribute their expertise in the best practices of business to strengthening the nation's security). This article is a personal comment.

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09 января 2013, 14:15

Grayling admits probation privatisation will not cut reoffending dramatically

Justice secretary says he hopes plans, which Labour condemns as 'reckless', will produce 'steady decline'The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has admitted his plans for the wholesale outsourcing of the probation service will not lead to an overnight reduction in stubbornly high reoffending rates but said he hoped it would lead to a "steady year-by-year decline".Grayling confirmed plans to scale back the public probation service to a "core role" of focusing on the most dangerous and high-risk offenders. Private companies and voluntary sector organisations would take over work with the majority of offenders by 2015, on a payment by results basis.The probation officers' union, Napo, claims the move represents the demise of the 105-year-old public probation service in England and Wales. The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, says ministers are taking a reckless gamble with public safety by using such an "untested and untried" payment by results model.Grayling told BBC radio he was trying to capture the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors to tackle reoffending rates. He said: "I am not expecting overnight some dramatic drop in offending but some steady year-by-year decline in offending."Grayling says a radical overhaul is needed to tackle the high reoffending rates, with 58% of short-sentenced prisoners offending again within a year and half a million crimes committed each year by released prisoners.The plans, published on Wednesday, mark a rapid acceleration of the "rehabilitation revolution" that the previous justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, had been cautiously piloting.Harry Fletcher, an assistant general secretary at Napo, claimed the decision was astonishing, given that the probation service had been awarded the British Quality Foundation gold award for excellence last year: "This move is purely ideological," he said. "It is being rushed through without proper thought to the consequences. It will be chaotic and will compromise public protection."The plans set out in the consultation Transforming Rehabilitation include inviting private companies and voluntary sector organisations to bid for the overwhelming majority of probation work. Full implementation is envisaged to take place by spring 2015, just before the expected date of the next general election.The announcement by the rightwing, populist justice secretary represents a new frontier in the boundary between public and private sectors in criminal justice. More than 240,000 offenders are supervised by the probation service each year.Unions expect that as much as 70% of the work done by the probation service in working with offenders in the community will move to private and voluntary sector providers under the plan, including the supervision of nearly all medium- and low-risk offenders.While the public probation service will not be banned outright from bidding for the work, it will be expected to do so only in partnership with the private sector. The current arrangement in London where Serco and the probation service delivers the community payback or unpaid work contract is regarded as the most likely model.The first phase of competition will centre on Grayling's plans to introduce mandatory rehabilitation programmes for short-sentenced prisoners on their release. Legislation is to be introduced within the next year that will require the 46,000 offenders serving sentences of less than 12 months to undertake drug treatment, mentoring or other programmes as a condition of their release.The consultation paper says the remaining role of the public sector probation service "will focus on protecting the public by managing the most high-risk offenders, including all serious sexual and violent offenders, providing advice to courts and making initial risk assessments on all offenders. It will retain ultimate responsibility for public protection in all cases." High-risk offenders are only 51,500 of the 240,000 people under probation supervision each year.The decision to leave the writing of court reports to the probation service reflects the potential conflict of interest if private security companies are recommending sentencing options to judges and magistrates. The retention of the ultimate responsibility for public protection implies that the probation service will also keep an important monitoring role to safeguard standards and avoid major scandals.The structure of the probation service also faces a major shakeup, with 35 areas merged into possibly six to eight regions so that bids can be invited on a national commissioning basis. The new areas will align closely with those of local authorities and police and crime commissioners. A £500,000 fund is to be set up to ensure voluntary and community groups are ready to begin bidding for services."Private and voluntary sector organisations will then be invited to bid for work in these areas with each contract awarded based on best value and innovation in tackling offending," says the consultation paper.Grayling said the plans were the most significant reforms to tackle reoffending and managing offenders in the community for a generation."What we do at the moment is send people out of prison with £46 in their pocket, and no support at all. No wonder we have such high levels of reoffending. It is madness to carry on with the same old system and hope for a different result," he said."We know across the public, private and voluntary sectors there is a wealth of expertise and experience. We need to unlock that so we can finally begin to bring down our stubbornly high reoffending rates."Our proposals will see all of those sentenced to prison or probation properly punished while being helped to turn away from crime for good. They will also mean we only spend taxpayers' money on what works when it comes to cutting crime," he said.On BBC Radio 4, the justice secretary said the probation system would not be 100% payment by results but part of the contracts would be on that basis. He said he wanted a "grown-up discussion" on how the "pricing system" would work but the incentives would not be based on success or failure with an individual offender but with a group of offenders."I want to make sure that the most difficult offenders are not simply parked in the corner and ignore them. cannot afford that to happen. They have to implement the orders of the court. They need to earn their money by delivering real success," said Grayling.But Fletcher said the claim that high reoffending rates among short-term prisoners was evidence of probation failure was unfounded. He said: "Probation has no statutory responsibility for supervising anybody sentenced to 12 months or less. Reoffending rates for the individuals that probation does supervise are much improved; those who participate in programmes have a reoffending rate now of 35%. This is a success story that the government should be building on, not destroying.".Prisons and probationChris GraylingUK criminal justiceAlan Travisguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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09 января 2013, 04:01

Probation service 'revolution' means wholesale privatisation

Justice secretary says radical measures are necessary to tackle high rate of short-sentenced prisoners reoffending within a yearThe justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is to outline plans for the wholesale outsourcing of the probation service with private companies and voluntary sector organisations to take over the rehabilitation of the majority of offenders by 2015.The public probation service is to be scaled back and "refocused" to specialise in dealing only with the most dangerous and high-risk offenders and public protection cases. The majority of services will be contracted out on a payment-by -result basis.The probation officers' union, Napo, claims the move represents the demise of the 105-year-old public probation service in England and Wales.Grayling says a radical overhaul is needed to tackle the high reoffending rates with 58% of short-sentenced prisoners reoffending within a year and half a million crimes committed each year by released prisoners.The plans published on Wednesday mark a rapid acceleration of the "rehabilitation revolution" that the previous justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, had been cautiously piloting.Harry Fletcher, an assistant general secretary at Napo, claimed the decision was astonishing given that the service had been awarded the British Quality Foundation Gold Award for Excellence last year: "This move is purely ideological. It is being rushed through without proper thought to the consequences. It will be chaotic and will compromise public protection."The plans set out in the consultation, Transforming Rehabilitation, envisage inviting private companies and voluntary sector organisations to bid for the overwhelming majority of probation work. Full implementation is envisaged to take place by spring 2015, just before the expected date of the next general election.The announcement by the rightwing, populist justice secretary represents a new frontier in the boundary between public and private sectors in criminal justice. More than 240,000 offenders are supervised by the probation service each year.Unions expect that as much as 70% of the work currently done by the probation service in working with offenders in the community will move to private and voluntary sector providers under the plan, including the supervision of nearly all medium and low-level risk offenders.While the public probation service will not be banned outright from bidding for the work, it will be expected to do so only in partnership with the private sector. The current arrangement in London where Serco and the probation service delivers the community payback or unpaid work contract is regarded as the most likely model.The first phase to be subject to competition will centre on Grayling's plans to introduce mandatory rehabilitation programmes for short-sentenced prisoners on their release. Legislation is to be introduced within the next year which will require the 46,000 offenders serving sentences of less than 12 months to undertake drug treatment, mentoring or other programmes as a condition of their release.The consultation paper says the remaining role of the public sector probation service "will focus on protecting the public by managing the most high-risk offenders, including all serious sexual and violent offenders, providing advice to courts and making initial risk assessments on all offenders. It will retain ultimate responsibility for public protection in all cases". High risk offenders account for only 51,500 of the 240,000 under probation supervision each year.The decision to leave the writing of court reports to the probation service reflects the potential conflict of interest if private security companies are recommending sentencing options to judges and magistrates. The retention of the ultimate responsibility for public protection implies that the probation service will also keep an important monitoring role to safeguard standards and avoid major scandals.The structure of the probation service also faces a major shakeup with the current 35 areas merged into possibly six to eight regions so that bids can be invited on a national commissioning basis. The new areas will align closely with those of local authorities and police and crime commissioners. A £500,000 fund is to be set up to ensure voluntary and community groups are ready to begin bidding for services."Private and voluntary sector organisations will then be invited to bid for work in these areas with each contract awarded based on best value and innovation in tackling offending," says the consultation paper.Grayling said the plans were the most significant reforms to tackle reoffending and managing offenders in the community for a generation."What we do at the moment is send people out of prison with £46 in their pocket, and no support at all. No wonder we have such high levels of reoffending. It is madness to carry on with the same old system and hope for a different result," said the justice secretary."We know across the public, private and voluntary sectors there is a wealth of expertise and experience – we need to unlock that so we can finally begin to bring down our stubbornly high reoffending rates."Our proposals will see all of those sentenced to prison or probation properly punished while being helped to turn away from crime for good. They will also mean we only spend taxpayers' money on what works when it comes to cutting crime," he said.But Fletcher said the claim that high reoffending rates among short-term prisoners was evidence of probation failure was unfounded: "Probation has no statutory responsibility for supervising anybody sentenced to 12 months or less. Reoffending rates for the individuals that Probation does supervise are much improved; those who participate in programmes have a reoffending rate now of 35%. This is a success story that the government should be building on, not destroying", he said.• This article was amended on 9 January 2013. The original said G4S was working with the probation service on the unpaid work contract scheme in London. This has been correctedPrisons and probationUK criminal justiceChris GraylingPrivatisationAlan Travisguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

05 января 2013, 23:46

Calls to close privately run NHS clinic after death

Lack of a ventilator following a routine knee operation is the latest in a series of scandalsThe brother of a woman who died after routine treatment at an NHS surgical clinic run by a building firm has called for the centre to be closed after an investigation found that, at a crucial moment, it did not have a ventilator available.Anita Mansi, who was 86, died last summer from multiple organ failure two days after a knee operation at the controversial Surgicentre, an NHS service in Hertfordshire run by Carillion, formerly part of Tarmac. She had previously been in good health. Hers was one of three deaths that prompted an independent investigation before Christmas into the care of four patients, including one who survived treatment at the Surgicentre.The firm has been urged by the investigator to consider how staff react when a patient's health deteriorates; to address the training of medical staff who have to deal with post-operative complications; and whether staff were able to easily access medical records held by the neighbouring NHS Lister hospital.The Lister hospital in Stevenage, to which Mansi and other patients who died were transferred after treatment at the Surgicentre, was also asked to consider a series of issues around its care.However, the Observer can reveal that the report also contained the admission that nurses dealing with the case at the privately run centre had needed a ventilator at 8.30am the day before the patient died, but "no machine was available". That admission, along with the report's further revelation that clinical medical records are missing and that the resident medical officer at the Surgicentre did not ask for a more senior doctor to attend to Ms Mansi as her health deteriorated, has provoked her brother, Michael, to demand the closure of the centre, which has been at the centre of a series of scandals over the past year.It has already been investigated over potential failings in the cases of six patients who suffered irreversible sight loss after treatment. Local doctors are advising patients against having procedures done at the centre, where there have been 21 serious clinical and patient information incidents since the clinic opened in September 2011. The clinic also lost the records of 8,500 ophthalmology outpatients last year, prompting local MP Stephen McPartland to back calls for Carillion to lose its licence.Speaking to the Observer, Mr Mansi, 76, added his voice to demands for the centre to close. He said: "After the operation, when I visited her in the centre, she appeared well. She stumbled over her words at one point, but was talking about cooking Sunday lunch that weekend when she was to be discharged. Then she dies within 48 hours."The independent investigator's report clearly says there wasn't a ventilator when it was needed. The staff also don't appear to have called in a senior doctor as her health deteriorated, but took advice by phone. And there are clinical records missing. I want the centre shut down so that no one else can be treated there only to end up in a box."The independent report for NHS Hertfordshire, by Dr Alan Fletcher, concluded that Ms Mansi's care was "satisfactory" overall. It said it was easy to find fault in "detailed reviews of such cases" and that overall the treatment patients received was not "substantially different to that provided to many, many patients in the UK in similar circumstances".However, it noted that the need for a ventilator on the morning before Ms Mansi died was frustrated because there was "no machine available".Mr Mansi said it had been a struggle for him to get to the truth about his sister's death. "They say they will learn lessons. I am sick of the cliches. This was Anita's first time at the centre and I do not believe she should have died."Mark O'Flynn, medical director for Lister Surgicentre, said: "Dr Fletcher makes recommendations about the speed of response when specialist care is needed. This was identified by our own investigation and action. This means that if our clinical teams have concerns about the speed of response they more quickly escalate it to a senior manager."We have also made a number of other changes. These include changes to patient records to make it easier to identify entries by different health professionals and have also increased, with the support of East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, the post-operative input from the clinical team that undertook the patients' surgery."Having received the review we are making sure that there are not any other lessons that we can learn. We would like to extend our condolences to the families concerned and recognise the additional anxiety that has been caused due to the media's interest."An NHS Hertfordshire statement said: "The review did make some recommendations and includes the requirement for more clinical supervision for medical staff, better access to full medical records between the Surgicentre and the Lister Hospital and clearer arrangements for access to senior medical and surgical review of patients at Surgicentre."NHSCarillionHealthcare industryHealthDaniel Boffeyguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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29 октября 2012, 01:15

Millions on east coast brace for impact as Hurricane Sandy arrives

New York partially evacuated before 'super storm' arrives; US presidential election campaign is also thrown into disarrayHurricane Sandy live blogTens of millions of people braced themselves for the arrival of hurricane Sandy on Sunday, as the gigantic storm threatened to unleash punishing winds, driving rain, heavy snow and a potentially lethal storm surge along the east coast of the US.The hurricane, which has claimed 65 lives in the Caribbean, is also likely to play havoc with the US election, introducing a fresh element of uncertainty and disruption in the final days of the closely contested campaign.Although Sandy is not expected to make landfall until late on Monday, gale-force winds were on Sunday night already buffeting Virginia and North Carolina. The "super-storm" is expected to veer left towards the east coast, colliding with wintry weather moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic."It's a very, very large system," Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, told Reuters. "The storm is going to carve a pretty large swath of bad weather, both water and wind."New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston all lie in the target zone, but Sandy is likely to cause disruption across much of the US and officials warned it could cause power cuts lasting for days. "The time for preparing and talking is about over," warned Craig Fugate, federal emergency management administrator. "People need to be acting now."Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both been forced to cancel events scheduled for Sunday and Monday, and the Obama campaign's "early vote" strategy is in danger of being thrown into disarray. Instead, the president had more pressing matters at hand, as he signed emergency declarations for the states of New York, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ordered the evacuation of some 375,000 people from low-lying areas and public schools were told to close on Monday. For only the second time in the city's history, the subway system is to be closed. "If you don't evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you," Bloomberg said. "This is a serious and dangerous storm."Although similar warnings of serious damage in New York last year turned out to be empty, people are taking few chances. Supermarkets were packed as customers stocked up, businesses closed early and nursing homes were being evacuated.Airlines cancelled more than 5,000 flights and Amtrak began suspending passenger train services across the northeast. Philadelphia also shut down its subways, buses and commuter trains and announced that schools would be closed on Monday. Boston, Washington and Baltimore also called off school.The US stock markets will close on Monday, and possibly Tuesday, with regulators saying the storm would make it difficult to ensure the safety of employees.Forecasters warned that at high tide, seawater could surge up to 3.4 metres above ground level in New York harbour. In Lower Manhattan water was close to street level. One employee of an apartment building pushed a trolley of sandbags across the road to try to reinforce the defences.Obama urged those in the path of the storm "to take this very seriously" but expressed confidence that all emergency measures were in place."This hasn't hit landfall yet," he said. "So we don't yet know where it's going to hit, where we're going to see the biggest impacts and that's exactly why it's so important for us to respond big and respond fast as local information starts coming in."The storm posed an additional challenge for Obama, who must balance his duties as president with his desire to get out on the campaign trail. After the US ambassador to Libya was killed in September, Obama was accused of quitting Washington too soon to attend a fund-raising event in Las Vegas.After visiting the federal emergency monitoring agency, he headed to Florida a day earlier than planned to squeeze in campaign stops there and in Ohio before returning to Washington.Romney also abandoned campaign stops on the east coast but without presidential commitments he has been able to rearrange his schedule to continue campaigning elsewhere, chiefly Ohio.Obama's main campaign adviser, David Axelrod, told CNN no one knew how hurricane Sandy will affect the election. "We're most concerned about people. This storm could affect 50 million people," Axelrod said. "The best thing we can do is to focus on how we can help people, and hope it all clears out by next weekend."In New York, the aisles of Whole Foods Market in Tribeca, one of the biggest retailers in Lower Manhattan, were heaving with customers. Grace Lin, who lives just outside the evacuation zone, said she was taking in friends from nearby. "There will be four adults and four children, and we are two adults and two children, so it's going to be pretty cosy," she said.Residents of the area had made similar preparations for hurricane Irene in September last year which ended up sparing New York City and leading to accusations of overreaction. But Lin said this storm appeared to be worse, and that she had particular concerns about power outages. "People are taking it more seriously than last time. The biggest issue for our friends is the elevators not working, not the flooding."Not everyone planned to leave the recommended evacuation areas, though. Kevin Heeney, 28, was stocking up with bottled water, but had no plans to move out. "We're going to stick it out," he said.Emerging from Whole Foods laden with bags of groceries, Danny and Laura Fletcher, a British couple who had just moved to the city, were sceptical of the reaction of New Yorkers. "We've just bought a big roast lunch," said Danny Fletcher. "I don't think it's going to be that bad. But it's panic stations in there," he said. Jonas Clark of Manchester Township, New Jersey – in the area where Sandy was projected to come ashore – stood outside a convenience store, calmly sipping a coffee and wondering why people were working themselves "into a tizzy"."I've seen a lot of major storms in my time, and there's nothing you can do but take reasonable precautions and ride out things the best you can," said Clark, 73. "Nature's going to do what it's going to do. It's great that there's so much information out there about what you can do to protect yourself and your home, but it all boils down to 'use your common sense'."October surprisesHurricane Sandy has injected an element of unpredictability into a US election that had been proceeding along lines worked out by the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney months ago.But it is not the first time in US political history that bad weather or other unexpected vents have changed a campaign's dynamic. US journalists have since the 1970s have come to expect what they have coined as 'the October Surprise', first used in 1972.These October surprises have ranged from the revelation in 2000 of George W. Bush's arrest on a drunk-driving charge, to the appearance of an Osama bin Laden video in 2004.Sometimes the suprises are not confined to October. Romney fell victim just two months ago to a similar hurricane warning when he was forced to cancel the first day of the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida. Given that the convention as a whole suffered from bad reviews in the US media and he received no poll bounce from it, that may have turned out to be a plus rather than a negative.In the run-up to the 2008 election, the sudden economic collapse in September saw Republican John McCain suspend his campaign to return to Washington for an emergency meeting, forcing Obama to return too. That went badly for McCain as he had little to say in Washington.Even a day or two off the campaign trail can have an impact. Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, fighting for the party nomination in 1972, seemed to have Ohio in the bag but may have lost it because of returning to Washington to deal with an issue related to the Vietnam war.No one can predict the impact of Hurricane Sandy on this election. What will play better? Obama being presidential in Washington, seemingly in command of the emergency operations, while Rommey continues campaigning? Or will Obama be unable resist the lure of rushing back to campaigning prematurely?Trouble aheadA stark warning has been sent out by the National Weather Service from Mount Jolly, in New Jersey. Speaking of the extreme danger of the coming storm and the strong possibility of serious damage, the statement said: "If you are being asked to evacuate a coastal location by state and local officials, please do so."If you are reluctant to evacuate, and you know someone who rode out the '62 storm on the barrier islands, ask them if they could do it again."If you are reluctant, think about your loved ones, think about the emergency responders who will be unable to reach you when you make the panicked phone call to be rescued, think about the rescue and recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured – or recover your remains if you do not survive."Hurricane SandyNew YorkUnited StatesHurricanesNatural disasters and extreme weatherMichael BloombergEwen MacAskillMatt Wellsguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

05 сентября 2012, 15:44

Frontrunning: September 5

The bankers are coming: Banker Plan Would Fund Super-PACs to Sway U.S. Senate Elections (Bloomberg) Risk Increases of Prolonged World Slowdown, BOJ’s Miyao Says (Bloomberg) Spain Seeks to Stem Its Banking Crisis (WSJ) Deadly shooting mars new Quebec premier's victory rally (NBC) Democrats Keep Tax-Raising Focus On Top 2% Of Households (Bloomberg) Merkel Swings Into 2013 Election Mode Evoking Crisis, China (Bloomberg) Europe’s money market funds future in focus (FT) Pressure Mounts on ECB to Bring Down Bond Yields (Reuters) Swiss bank vows to hold franc down (FT) Australia economy still solid in Q2 despite GDP miss, but threats mount (Reuters) Clinton Brings to Beijing Plea for Maritime Solution (Bloomberg) The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business (BusinessWeek) Overnight Media Digest WSJ * Facebook Inc took steps on Tuesday to reassure investors and employees worried about its plummeting stock price, as the social network's shares hit new lows. * Apple Inc invited the media to a product announcement Sept. 12 at which it is widely expected to announce a new iPhone. Several media outlets had already reported on the date of the event, which coincides with when Apple typically introduces a new version of its flagship device. * Technology blogs were abuzz on Tuesday with news that a group of hackers leaked a million ID numbers from Apple devices-numbers that they claim to have taken from a database that also had people's other personal information on it. * The owner of Hudson's Bay Co., North America's oldest company, has hired banks to explore an initial public offering of the firm's Canadian and U.S. stores for as early as this October, according to people familiar with the matter. * The European Union escalated its push to break Russian domination of Europe's natural-gas supplies as it launched an investigation on Tuesday into suspected efforts by Moscow's state-owned energy giant OAO Gazprom to lock up markets on the bloc's eastern flanks. * A judge said on Tuesday that AMR Corp can reject labor agreements with its pilots union, 20 days after he forced the American Airlines' parent to make changes to the proposal.   FT HEATHROW AND NHS DOMINATE RESHUFFLE Expansion at Heathrow and the future of the NHS were the top subjects of debate in the wake of David Cameron's first cabinet shake-up. HACKERS PUBLISH APPLE USERS' DATA Hackers have caused embarrassment for Apple by publishing a trove of sensitive customer information online. BUSINESS OPPOSES QUOTA OF WOMEN DIRECTORS Business leaders urged the government to stand firm against the European Commission's plan to legislate quotas of women on boards. MONEY MARKET FUNDS LOOK TO PASS ON LOSSES Investors in the 1.1 trillion euro ($1.38 trillion) European money market fund industry are facing losses as big managers prpeare to pass on the impact of negative short-term interest rates. MEGAFON PLANS LONDON IPO TO RAISE $4 BLN One of Russia's major mobile phone companies is planning a $20 billion flotation in London and Moscow. BRUSSELS OPENS PROBE INTO GAZPROM The European Commission has opened a formal investigation into suspected market abuses by Gazprom. EU SET TO APPROVE UK MOBILE WALLET SYSTEM Britain's largest mobile phone payment platform is set to be granted unconditional EU approval despite objections by rivals such as Google. MADRID PLANS TO INJECT BANKIA WITH DEBT Spain is planning to provide 4.5 billion euros ($5.65 billion) in stopgap rescue money to Bankia by injecting it with Spanish government debt. SHELL WOES DETER OTHERS FROM US ARCTIC Royal Dutch Shell's regulatory problems in the U.S. Arctic are deterring other energy groups with licences in the U.S.' northern oceans. SANTANDER LAUNCHES $4 BLN MEXICAN IPO Spanish bank Santander plans to raise up to 3.4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) through the stock market listing of a quarter of its Mexican unit. DEUTSCHE CUTS EQUITIES SALES STAFF IN ASIA Deutsche Bank cut 10 percent of its Asian equities sales and trading staff on Tuesday.   NYT * Facebook Inc said its largest shareholder and Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg, would not sell his shares or options for at least another year; and moved up when some employees could start selling their shares. The moves appeared aimed at instilling confidence into Wall Street, analysts said. * Hackers released a file that they said contained a million identification numbers for Apple Inc mobile devices, claiming that they had obtained it by hacking into the computer of an F.B.I. agent. The F.B.I. said it had no evidence that this was true. * The scandal over global interest rates has states working to build a case for suing the nation's largest banks. * Major automakers reported on Tuesday that sales grew 19.9 percent in August despite higher gas prices during the month. * With the worst drought in half a century withering corn across the Midwest, agricultural experts on Tuesday urged international action to prevent the global spike in food prices from causing global hunger.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * A historic Quebec election that returned the Parti Québécois to power ended in tragedy Tuesday when a gunman killed one person and wounded another after trying to start a fire at the Montreal venue where PQ Leader Pauline Marois was celebrating her minority mandate. * Canada's most prestigious medical journal is calling on parents, lawmakers and doctors to put an end to the practice of spanking children. In an editorial published Tuesday, Canadian Medical Association Journal editor-in-chief John Fletcher adds his publication's heft to a growing call to strike down Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which outlines legally allowable "corrective" physical punishment of children by their parents. Reports in the business section: * Canada needs an "immense amount of capital" to develop and move its resources to market, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Tuesday, signifying the federal government's desire to encourage foreign investment in the natural resources sector. NATIONAL POST * The PQ calls him a double crosser and the Liberals have dubbed him a closet separatist, but in a minority National Assembly, Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault now holds the balance of power in Quebec. Despite election-eve claims that his party would rise to power in a last-minute, NDP-style sweep, the third place finish was nevertheless an impressive feat for the province's youngest political party. * Peel Police put three Brampton schools under a hold and secure order Tuesday morning after a stabbing on the first day back to class. The victim suffered minor injuries after an altercation with another student at Cardinal Leger Secondary School. FINANCIAL POST * The skies over Europe are darkening (again) and the U.S. is heading into an election, but we're not worried - at least not in the Canadian bond market. No contagion here. Government of Canada yields remain at historic lows and debt issued by companies is also benefiting from Canada's safe haven status. * The owner of Hudson's Bay Co is aiming to take the department store chain public before the end of the year, sources said Tuesday. A successful offering would put some control of North America's oldest private enterprise back in Canadian hands, but softer market conditions from global economic uncertainty could still derail the deal.   European Economic Update: Switzerland CPI for August 0.0 m/m -0.5 y/y – lower than expected. Consensus 0.1% m/m -0.4% y/y. Previous -0.5% m/m -0.7% y/y. Italy PMI Services for August 44.0 – higher than expected. Consensus 43.3. Previous 43.0. France PMI Services for August 49.2 – lower than expected. Consensus 50.2. Previous 50.2. Germany PMI Services for August 48.3 – in line with expectations. Consensus 48.3. Previous 48.3. Sweden PMI Services 50.8. Previous 54.8. Norway PMI s.a. 48.7 – lower than expected. Consensus 50.1. Previous 48.7. Spain PMI Services 44.0 – higher than expected. Consensus 43.4. Previous 43.7. Eurozone PMI Services for August 47.2 – lower than expected. Consensus 47.5. Previous 47.5. Eurozone PMI Composite for August 46.3 – lower than expected. Consensus 46.6. Previous 46.6. Eurozone Retail Sales for July -0.2% m/m -1.7% y/y – lower than expected. Consensus -0.2% m/m -1.5% y/y. Previous 0.1% m/m -0.9% y/y.

22 августа 2012, 13:01

Новая Зеландия: годовая прибыль Fletcher упала на 35%

Крупнейший в Новой Зеландии поставщик строительных материалов Fletcher Building отчитался о 35%-ном снижении годовой прибыли на фоне ослабления рынка недвижимости в стране и Австралии. Так, чистая прибыль за год с окончанием 30 июня упала с NZ$283 млн годом ранее до NZ$185 млн ($150 млн).